Judges have flexibility on probation violations

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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If someone violates their probation, trial courts have the authority to modify a part of those probation terms and can add new conditions as they see necessary.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled today in Russell Prewitt v. State of Indiana, No. 10S04-0707-CR-294, arising out of Prewitt's previous attempted cocaine possession conviction and subsequent probation starting in mid-2005. The state moved to revoke his probation twice within four months for alleged violations, and the trial court determined Prewitt had violated the probation. Clark Superior Judge Cecile Blau ordered that Prewitt serve two years of his previously suspended six-year sentence and that he receive post-incarceration treatment at Richmond State Hospital as a new condition of probation.

On appeal, Prewitt argued the trial court didn't have the authority to both order a portion of the previously suspended sentence and to modify the conditions. He relied on the word "or" within Indiana Code 35-38-2-3(g), which spells out the three options courts have in dealing with probation violations by continuing probation without modifying for enlarging the conditions; extending that period up to a year; "or" ordering execution of all or part of the sentence suspended at initial sentencing.

Supreme Court justices cited past caselaw and legislative intent from other statutes in determining what's allowed.

"We cannot postulate a reason the legislature would grant trial courts discretion to combine conditions when first placing a defendant on probation but not when sentencing a defendant after a probation violation," Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote. "We do not perceive the word 'or' in this statute as reflecting a legislative decision to put revocation decisions in a straightjacket."

The court noted judicial flexibility serves the public interest by giving judges the ability to order sentences they deem to be the most effective and appropriate for individuals.

Justices also determined that Prewitt's sentence was not an abuse of discretion by the trial judge and affirmed the trial court judgment.

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  1. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  2. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  3. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.

  4. While if true this auto dealer should be held liable, where was the BMV in all of this? How is it that the dealer was able to get "clean" titles to these vehicles in order to sell them to unsuspecting consumers?

  5. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless [ ] Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. GOD BLESS THE GOVERNORS RESISTING! Count on the gutless judiciary to tie our children down and facilitate the swords being drawn across their throats. Wake Up America ...